New Zealand responded to a 0-5 defeat in the T20 internationals with a commanding 3-0 sweep of the One-Day International series, but as well as they played, they were aided in no small measure by a fumbling Indian side.
Virat Kohli and the management group must be disappointed at the bowling and especially, the fielding. The batting was shored up resourcefully by Shreyas Iyer, who has ended the discussion on the No. 4 slot, and KL Rahul, who once again showcased his versatility, but the lack of penetration was exposed by New Zealand in general — and their openers in particular.
For the third time in the series, Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls were allowed to get off to a cracking start. India’s 296 seemed competitive only until the fast bowlers started to bowl short, and to the batsmen’s strengths. Nicholls is a strong back foot player and Guptill powered to a half-century, the standout stroke a fabulous pull off Jasprit Bumrah, well below his wicket-taking best on this tour.
Yuzvendra Chahal, easily India’s best bowler, tried to make a fist of it alongside Ravindra Jadeja, who had another fine outing with the ball. Chahal was dangerous whenever he flighted the ball and allowed it to grip and turn and as India cut through the middle-order, a tight finish appeared on the cards. Colin de Grandhomme and Tom Latham then calmly guided New Zealand home, the former especially impactful as he unleashed several massive strokes.
Like it has been all series, India’s fielding was less than impressive. Especially when the wickets are not coming, top-class fielding can act as an additional bowler. India will feel they let themselves down in the field.
Their early batting too left a lot to be desired. The start of any innings, be it with bat or ball, sets the tone for what is to follow. Apart from their half-century stand in the first ODI, openers Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw haven’t strung together a partnership. When three wickets fall in the first quarter of the innings, including that of the best batsman in the side if not the world, it’s never easy to recover and post a substantial total.
That India managed to do so was thanks to the growing maturity and influence in the middle order of Shreyas and Rahul, both capable of playing at more than one gear, both situationally aware, and both adept at the waiting and the power game. Pandey added a new dimension with his smartness in running, but the lack of firepower once Rahul and Pandey were dismissed off successive deliveries left India maybe 25 runs short.